Edit ModuleShow Tags

Coin-Op Brings Brings Innovative Cocktails and Classic Games to the Gaslamp

Michele Willard’s menu is both fun and sophisticated


Published:

At Coin-Op, sip on a craft cocktail and play some Skee-Ball. | Photo: Kelly Davis

Coin-Op’s new Gaslamp location is an homage to all things ’80s, from the Activision-inspired racing stripes on the floor to the burnt-orange Naugahyde chairs around the bar (I don’t know for sure that they’re Naugahyde, but for authenticity’s sake, let’s pretend they are). The cocktails, though, are forward-thinking. Creator Michele Willard (Craft & Commerce, Bracero, Urbn) have found ways to weave her favorite spirits into drinks that are fun and approachable.

“You see a lot of rhum agricole, sherry, a lot of mezcal,” she says. “I’m using digestifs, I’m using charcoal. I’m using a lot of things you see in the craft cocktail community, but introducing them in a practical way for downtown.”

The Green Goblin. | Photo: Michele Willard

Two of her favorites on the 12-drink menu are the Kryptonite (rhum agricole, lime, kiwi syrup, and Chareau Aloe liqueur) and the Green Goblin (Moroccan mint-infused caçhaca, Cocchi Americano, lime, orgeat, and Chareau Aloe). Chareau is an increasingly popular California-made spirit, distilled from grapes and flavored with aloe vera, cucumber, spearmint, lemon peel, and muskmelon. It adds lightness to a cocktail but also, as Willard points out, gives it a nice backbone.

Cocktails made with activated charcoal have been popular for the visual effect, but Willard uses almond charcoal in the Good vs. Evil — a take on a classic sour — to add some dryness and bring out the layers of flavor. It gives the cocktail an otherworldly gray hue. Garnished with micro mums, it’s a very pretty drink.

If you’re looking for a quiet place to enjoy a cocktail, Coin-Op might not be for you. It riffs off the arcades of the ’80s — loud music, lots of visual stimuli. Go to play classic video games, pinball, or Skee-Ball — all the games are outfitted with drink holders (and on Sunday, Sept. 3, from noon to 2 a.m., all games are free). There are also several communal tables with inset video games for larger parties and some really nice punch bowls to share.

“It’s not pretentious,” Willard says. “It’s a fun atmosphere you can feel comfortable in.”


Got ideas for a future post? Email me.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

Have a Beer with the Eppig Brewing Team

Clayton LeBlanc, Nathan Stephens, and Stephanie Eppig discuss the North Park brewery's magic formula

Plaza Bar’s Cocktails Provide Respite from a Not-So-Cold Winter

Irving Gonzalez taps into the bar’s music scene for inspiration

A Look Back at San Diego Beer in 2017

The events, trends, and brews that made the year in beer
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Sponsored

Enter a Drawing You Could Actually Win

There are more than 1,700 prizes in the Dream House Raffle

Buy a Raffle Ticket, Win This Rare Sports Car

Donate to a good cause to seriously upgrade your ride
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. San Diego Magazine's Travel Awards 2018
    Cast your vote now for your favorite hotels, travel companies, and attractions
  2. First Look: Cloak & Petal
    The owners of Tajima bring Japanese small plates to Little Italy with Cloak & Petal
  3. Your Guide to San Diego's Best Happy Hours
    Here's where to throw back a cold one while the sun's still out
  4. 15 Coolest Jobs in San Diego and How to Get Them
    We asked 15 San Diego professionals with the coolest jobs in town how they landed their gigs—and how we could steal them
  5. Shake Shack vs. In-N-Out: Which Burger is Better?
    Pitting NYC’s burger icon against the king of SoCal
  6. The San Diego Lager Boom
    Why light, crisp, and flavorful is the next “new” thing
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module